JULY 13 2009

While the timing of Red Cross volunteer Eugenio Vagni’s release coincided with the brief visit of US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Leon Panetta, Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today said government should now immediately move to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf.

“We are thankful that Mr. Vagni was released unharmed. Even if it earned brownie points for the Arroyo administration from the chief of the CIA, the important thing is that he is now safe and with his loved ones,” he said.

“If the intention of the Arroyo administration is to show to the CIA chief that it is capable of fighting terrorists, then it would be better to demonstrate the capability to stop the Abu Sayyaf once and for all,” he said.

“The Abu Sayyaf has terrorized Muslims and Christians, and have committed atrocities that deserve to be punished. With the release of Vagni, there should be no more obstacle to neutralizing this terror group,” he said.

Binay said despite billions in intelligence funds, superior strength, and several major offensives, the national government has failed to annihilate what it has described as a small group of terrorists.

“The national government has repeatedly dismissed the Abu Sayyaf as a small group of terrorists, and yet this small group has been behind kidnappings and other acts of atrocities that challenge the authority of government. They should be stopped,” he said.


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